UN RA "Space Is the Place," John Coney's 1974 gangster/science-fiction movie featuring Sun Ra and his Arkestra, is also a rock-and-roll film: it has the same structure as "Rock and Roll High School" and "School of Rock," in that the plot lines act as minor diversions on the way to the band's playing a gig at the end. Visually, the new DVD version, released by Plexifilm, glows with the natural brightness of the Northern California skies and the reds, greens and blues of nightclub spotlights. It's a weird, funny, touching, race-and-sex-obsessed explosion of free jazz, rhythm-and-blues, low comedy and surrealism, skepticism and romanticism. Pretty much like the new Outkast album.
JOE STRUMMER Before his death last December at 50, he had half-finished "Streetcore," the final album (released by Hellcat) bearing his name. The enterprise sounded a little dicey, as did the news that he had recorded a solo version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" for it. But here's an album that conveys who this guy was. He had a punk dimension, a Woody Guthrie dimension, a reggae dimension, and his lyrics found an Englishman's view of America somewhere between John Ford's and Allen Ginsberg's. It's Strummer's best album with his post-Clash group the Mescaleros, and maybe the best work he did since "Sandinista!," 23 years ago.
By BEN RATLIFF
Published: October 26, 2003